Saturday, May 29, 2010

Updated Timeline: The Sestak Bribe and the White House Coverup

The contradictions between Congressman Joe Sestak's account of a job offer and the belated, official White House response are, in a word, stunning. The controversy isn't dying down and it won't be going away. In fact, I suspect it has only just begun.

13 February 2009: Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter votes for the controversial $787 billion Stimulus package, leading to an outcry by Pennsylvania voters and Republicans nationwide. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that both before and after the vote, Specter is courted as a Democratic convert by Gov. Ed Rendell and Vice President Joe Biden.

Sometime between February and July 2009: A member of the White House staff (possibly Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel) offers Rep. Joseph Sestak (D-PA), who is running against incumbent Senator Arlen Specter (D-PA), an unspecified job in return for him dropping out of the race. The rationale: the White House believes Specter has a better chance of winning against a GOP contender than Sestak.

26 March 2009: President Obama announces his intent to nominate Ray Mabus to be Secretary of the Navy.

28 April 2009: After months of speculation, Specter switches to the Democrat Party.

30 May 2009: "Sestak to challenge Specter"

Congressman Joe Sestak (D) plans to ignore White House and DSCC pressure and will shortly announce his primary challenge to US Senator Arlen Specter (D). reports "is privately telling supporters that he intends to run for Senate." In support of the report, TPM quoted Sestak's sister and campaign employee: "He intends to get in the race." TPM also produced a scan of handwritten note from Sestak to a supporter in which the Congressman wrote: "I am writing you as especially dear supporters to let you know I intend to run for the US Senate." Meanwhile, State Representative Bill Kortz (D) -- a retired steelworker -- says he plans to also continue his primary run against Specter. While Sestak is positioning himself to the left of the incumbent former Republican, the pro-life and pro-gun rights Kortz is positioning himself to the right of Specter.

22 July 2009: White House Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina denies rumors that White House Counsel Greg Craig is 'on his way out' as sources report that Craig has 'clashed with others in the inner circle over various matters.'

9 November 2009: After months of official denials, White House Counsel Greg Craig tenders his resignation, stating "his decision was unrelated to the difficulties in closing Guantanamo Bay prison or other policy issues."

18 February 2010: Apparently unaware that job offers by an administration in exchange for political favors are illegal, Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) readily admits that he was offered a job to drop out of the Senate primary race with Arlen Specter during an interview with Philadelphia TV newscaster Larry Kane.

Were you ever offered a job to get out of this race? (The contest against Arlen Specter)... Sestak didn’t flinch .

Yes,” he answered.

“Was it Navy Secretary?”, I asked.

“No comment.”

He proceeded to talk about staying in the race but added that “he was called many times” to pull out... Later, I asked, “So you were offered a job by someone in the White House?

He said, “Yes.” ...When the taping stopped, Joe Sestak looked surprised.

18 February 2010 15:45: After calling the White House for its reaction and receiving the word that they would respond 'shortly', Kane breaks the story on KYW news radio. Kane later related on his website that he was stunned the White House took so long to respond. As "the question was being asked, Joe Sestak never hesitated. In a split second, he just said, 'yes.'"

19 February 2010 06:45: At 6:45AM, 15 hours later, a Deputy Press Secretary calls Kane and says, "You can say the White House says it’s not true."

9 March 2010: MSNBC reports that Sestak did confirm receiving an offer for the Secretary of Navy job ("it completely reconfirms it") in an interview with Joe Scarborough:

Scarborough: "Your name came up because of this offer for you to run the Department of Navy if you'd get out of the race in Pennsylvania. Did you feel there was a connection there when the President made that offer to you?"

Sestak: "You know, it's interesting... Something happened last July before I got in the race, and I never got asked about it and someone asked me. And, you know, I answered it honestly, I just said 'yes'. But it didn't go beyond that and actually and Joe, I don't think I should."

10 March 2010: Rep. Darrell Issa, the top Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee sends a letter to the White House Counsel Robert Bauer. The letter requests information regarding the Sestak job offer including: (a) which White House staffers communicated with Sestak about the Senate race; (b) which positions, if any, were offered to reward Sestak for dropping out of the race; (c) what investigations, if any, did the White House undertake to determine whether criminal activity took place; and (d) does the White House expect to refer the matter to the Department of Justice? Issa issues a 18 March 2010 deadline for a reply by the White House counsel.

16 March 2010: Peppered by questions from reporters, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs issues the following statement: "I’ve talked to several people in the White House. I’ve talked to people who have talked to others in the White House. I’m told that whatever conversations have been had, are not problematic. I think Congressman Sestak has discussed that this is – whatever happened is in the past and he is focused on this primary."

18 March 2010: No reply is received by Issa.

22 Mach 2010: Issa issues a second request along with an adivsory that further silence on the matter would result in a request to the Attorney General to appoint a special prosecutor. A second deadline is issued by Issa of 5 April 2010.

5 April 2010: No reply is received by Issa to his second request. During a press conference, Robert Gibbs is asked by a CNS News reporter whether the White House would endorse the appointment of a special prosecutor, given the 5 April deadline. Gibbs ignores the question and instead references his 16 March remarks.

6 May 2010: White House Deputy Counsel Daniel J. Meltzer resigns.

18 May 2010: Sestak defeats Arlen Specter in the Democrat Pennsylvania primary race for U.S. Senate.

25 May 2010: 'Sestak Awkwardly Dodges Questions About Alleged White House Job Offer':

Senate hopeful Joe Sestak joined Senate Democrats at their weekly caucus lunch today, where he was grilled by CNN producer Ted Barrett about his claim that the White House once offered him a job to get him out of the Pennsylvania primary...

"The question is what job was offered to you and by whom? Because David Axelrod said last night that it would be illegal if you were offered a job. So who offered you the job?" asked Barrett, who towers over Sestak by a foot or more.

"I have nothing to say on the matter. I've answered," Sestak offered.

"Do you think this will go away, though, or this will not be a liability for you?" Barrett pressed.

Sestak seemed visibly rattled, but continued to pivot away from the questions.

26 May 2010: All seven Republican members of the the Senate Judiciary Committee request that the Department of Justice appoint a special prosecutor to probe the Sestak allegations.

27 May 2010: Inexplicably, Former President Bill Clinton meets with President Obama, ostensibly to discuss the oil spill.

27 May 2010: Inexplicably, the White House contacts Joe Sestak's brother and campaign manager Richard in preparation for the "official statement" it would soon release.

28 May 2010: Bill Clinton ignores questions regarding his interactions with Joe Sestak.

28 May 2010: 14 members of the House of Representatives send a letter to FBI Director Robert Mueller requesting that the FBI conduct a probe of criminal conduct.

28 May 2010: The White House finally issues a memo describing its review of discussions related to Sestak. It claims that Bill Clinton acted as a cutout between Rahm Emanuel and Joe Sestak and no substantial job offer was mentioned.

Contradictions between the White House and Sestak accounts

The following contradictions exist between the official White House account and the original Sestak interview:

• White House: "White House staff did not discuss these options with Congressman Sestak."
&bull: Sestak: Replied "Yes" to the question "you were offered a job by someone in the White House?"

• White House: "It has been suggested that discussions of alternatives to the Senate campaign were improperly raised with the Congressman. There was no such impropriety. "
• Sestak: Replied "Yes" to the question "Were you ever offered a job to get out of this race?

• White House: "It has been suggested that the Administration may have offered Congressman Sestak the position of Secretary of the Navy in the hope that he would accept the offer and abandon a Senate candidacy. This is false."
• Sestak: Replied "No comment" to the question "Was it Navy Secretary?", when a simple "No" would have sufficed. In a separate interview, MSNBC says that Sestak did confirm the offer of the Secretary of the Navy position.

"If proven, the reported actions of the Obama administration are clear violations of three federal laws. The impact and fallout from documented violations, as well as the refusal of the Holder Justice Department to appoint a Special Counsel to investigate this matter, have the potential to eclipse the Watergate scandal of the early 1970’s – it is that serious."

[i] 18 U.S.C. § 600: Whoever, directly or indirectly, promises any employment, position, compensation, contract, appointment, or other benefit, provided for or made possible in whole or in part by any Act of Congress, or any special consideration in obtaining any such benefit, to any person as consideration, favor, or reward for any political activity or for the support of or opposition to any candidate or any political party in connection with any general or special election to any political office, or in connection with any primary election or political convention or caucus held to select candidates for any political office, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.

18 U.S.C. § 211: Whoever solicits or receives, either as a political contribution, or for personal emolument, any money or thing of value, in consideration of the promise of support or use of influence in obtaining for any person any appointive office or place under the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both. Whoever solicits or receives anything of value in consideration of aiding a person to obtain employment under the United States either by referring his name to an executive department or agency of the United States or by requiring the payment of a fee because such person has secured such employment shall be fined under this title, or imprisoned not more than one year, or both. This section shall not apply to such services rendered by an employment agency pursuant to the written request of an executive department or agency of the United States.

18 U.S.C. § 595: Whoever, being a person employed in any administrative position by the United States, or by any department or agency thereof, or by the District of Columbia or any agency or instrumentality thereof, or by any State, Territory, or Possession of the United States, or any political subdivision, municipality, or agency thereof, or agency of such political subdivision or municipality (including any corporation owned or controlled by any State, Territory, or Possession of the United States or by any such political subdivision, municipality, or agency), in connection with any activity which is financed in whole or in part by loans or grants made by the United States, or any department or agency thereof, uses his official authority for the purpose of interfering with, or affecting, the nomination or the election of any candidate for the office of President, Vice President, Presidential elector, Member of the Senate, Member of the House of Representatives, Delegate from the District of Columbia, or Resident Commissioner, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.

Hat tips: Homeland Security U.S. and MSNBC's Morning Joe. Linked by: Gateway Pundit, Dan Riehl, Strata-Sphere, Nice Deb and Creative Minority Report. Thanks!


Reliapundit said...

with so much riding on specter's victory it puzzles me that obama didntt try to do more to help him win.


is obama so unpopular that they feared that if he campaigned for specter it would hurt him!?

swede said...


This just keeps getting sweeter. What's a socialist megalomaniac community organizer to do?

Bold and decisive leadership looks like this:

I feel really really bad about all this oil n'stuff, and my little girl feels bad too. I worry about it all the way through the first 9 holes, then a little on the 15th fairway too. I feel your pain!

john jay said...


nice reporting.

nothing will come of it. it is just the common practice with democrats not to impeach sitting democratic presidents who share their corrpution.

who is u.s. senator from illinois, in the "obama" seat. i trust my meaning is clear.

a democratic house will never return articles of impeachment. a democratic senate would never convict.

and, just where is the "smoking gun" making obama the source of the bribe.

there is a reason bill clinton was called in ... the reigning expert on fighting impeachment.

he told obama exactly as i have stated here. and, told obama, "don't sweat it."

john jay

suek said...

It's all so dumb. They could've/should've said..."Yes...we offered him the job of xxx. He turned it down, saying that in order to take the job, he'd have to end his Senate run. We agreed that he would have to end his run. He wasn't prepared to do that, so the job offer was withdrawn." Job offer confirmed, Senate run mentioned, but not as a condition of taking the job.

What a fine mess they've gotten themselves into _this_ time!!!

NeoKong said...

I guess we will have to trade Waterloo for Watergate.

Jewish Odysseus said...

JohnJay is 110% correct, this is all a bunch of impotent sound & fury, achieving nothing but diluting attention from the pathetic incompetence of the oil-spill response.

If Holder wd call off the slam-dunk prosecution of the Thug Panthers terrorizing white voters, why on earth wd we expect him to actually commence a prosecution of his own White House bosses??!!

Unless corrupt & ruthless power is confronted w/even more ruthless power (i.e., Ahmedinejad), it will laugh at its indignant opponents. The GOP had Congressional Power PLUS the White House for 6 years, and didn't achieve a single successful prosecution of a partisan Democrat. Because they lacked the ruthlessness (and still do). We shd not expect any better now that they are essentially powerless.

Ohhhhhhhhhhhh, I forgot, the MEDIA will put the legal heat on Obama. Just like they did to Nixon, and Gingrich. Riiiiiiight.

Wisco said...

Totally illegal. Of course, Bush did the same thing, so round him up and put him in jail too.

Reagan too, but it looks like he got away with it -- can't jail the dead.

Looks like this one's going to go the same way as birtherism and the idea that Obama stole the election something that'll bounce around on wingnut blogs from now until forever, but that no one else will take seriously.

A.G. said...

Great timeline (again)!

I think that we can probably infer from your timeline that the job offer (Navy Sec.) to Sestak was made sometime between early February, 2009 to, at or around, March 26, 2009- contrary to what the White House and Sestak claimed last Friday that the offer was sometime "last summer". Sestak likely turned down the offer and told them he would stay in the race, so then Obama nominated Mabus. Any offer by the White House to Sestak after March 26 would've been predicated upon Mabus stepping down or being replaced- possible, but less likely.

A possible related note: I have no idea whether this is relevant to your timeline at this point, but it might be, so I'll throw it out there: The White House Counsel at the time the job offer was made to Sestak was Gregory Craig. Robert Bauer, a former Democrat election lawyer, who wrote the Sestak legal memorandum released last Friday, now holds the position.

Rumors started leaking last summer- less than half a year on the job- that the highly experienced Yale Law grad Gregory Craig was already on his way out, and were reported in many media outlets (WaPo, WSJ, etc.). On July, 22, 2009 White House Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina denied the rumors, "Sounds like typical Washington parlor games to me. These rumors are wrong." (WaPo), and denied it again to the WSJ a month later. In September, Craig told a group of three people, which included the president, that he was thinking of resigning (according to Politco). He then announced his resignation in November, with Politico reporting that, "[H]is decision was unrelated to the difficulties in closing Guantanamo Bay prison or other policy issues." Politico also reported that, "Craig said he could 'think of many ways in hindsight that I could have better served the president' but declined to be more specific."

So, who knows Craig's specific reason for resigning, but inquiring minds might want to know...

Georgetown said...

There's something else here. Sestak never said the name of the person or the name of the job in these interviews. However it is well known to the reporters that the person was BO and the Job was the Sec of the Navy. That tells us that either Setak slipped and confided in someone or, the most likely scenario,
there is an audio video around that reveals exactly what took place. All I can say is that everyone should Tell the Truth.

A.G. said...

On thinking about it more, I'll make a slight correction to what I wrote above about inferring when the job offer to Sestak was "likely" made: since Specter didn't switch parties until 4/28/09, the administration might not have had as much reason for getting Sestak out of the picture until they were sure that Specter would officially become a Democrat. Thus, Rahm and the administration could have likely made an offer (or offers) until 7/09- as the timeline correctly notes- with the intention of getting rid of Mabus. It would've been more complicated and messier, but knowing how this administration handles things- still very possible...

I wonder if Mabus and his people heard any rumors at the time about this??

directorblue said...

A.G.: Outstanding! I am re-posting this along with the forgotten news report from May 7th that the Deputy White House Counsel has resigned...

directorblue said...

A.G., regarding Specter timing: please check out the early part of the timeline. It seems that Specter had conversations early in '09 with Ed Rendell and others regarding switching parties.

It was clear to insiders that Specter was "negotiating" for some support if he turned Democrat well before the actual event.

Georgetown said...

Here's something else:
From Bob Bauer's Statement

The [P]resident announced his intent to nominate Ray Mabus to be Secretary of the Navy on March 26,2009, over a month before Senator Specter announced that he was becoming a member of the Democratic Party in late April. Mabus was confirmed in May.

Spector obviously had planned to "change parties" in Feb 2009 after the outrage he received from his constituents. They were outraged that he voted against Republican Values and for the Stimulus Package Feb 2009. So just cause it wasn't "announced" until April 29th 2009 doesn't mean plans weren't in the works. Obama Welcomed Spector to the Democrat Party April 2009.

And yet Sestak has been known to "take bribes"

Feb 10 2010 HS commenter wrote
"Sestak is in dire straits at present. The U.S. Attorney’s Office is poised to announce formal charges against his ally and confidante, UFCW Local 1776 President Wendell Young IV. And the FBI is actively exploring the possibility that Sestak accepted bribes from Young IV in 2006."

A.G. said...

directorblue: Thanks for the re-post!!

Yeah, something about Craig's resignation kept gnawing at me. I forgot to add: Craig had a lot of Clinton ties, so it caused a big stir when early on, in March 2007, he endorsed Obama over Hillary. (RCP article, link below). If he were a long-time Democrat, who just happened to be counsel in the new Obama administration, and he didn't like what he saw, and wanted to resign right away, it might have been one thing. But this guy was one of Obama's earliest supporters.

"A.G., regarding Specter timing: please check out the early part of the timeline. It seems that Specter had conversations early in '09 with Ed Rendell and others regarding switching parties.

It was clear to insiders that Specter was "negotiating" for some support if he turned Democrat well before the actual event."

Ok, I think I understand clearer now (and my initial hunch was probably right). Specter wouldn't have made the switch without enough assurances- and one of the assurances for a Senator (especially at his age) with a re-election coming up the next year, likely would have been that he would have a guarantee from the administration to use its "muscle" to force out any primary challengers. (And Rahm clearly wanted a more moderate guy in Penn than Sestak, anyways). The administration probably felt pretty certain about its chances for the party switch, so it moved early on in the timeline to make an offer to Sestak- which, if true, contradicts Sestak's release last Friday that he received the call sometime "last summer."

It just gets more interesting each day. You mentioned Rendell as being part of the party switch talks. I would suggest keeping an eye on him, too... You may have seen this about Rendell's recent claims about Sestak:

RCP link about Craig's endorsement:

Georgetown said...

Also AG, It appears that Sestak has known since May 09 that he wanted a Senate seat. The WH and the DSCC(Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee) had been pressuring him since May 09 to get out of the race.

BLOG ARCHIVE: MAY 1-15, 2009.

PENNSYLVANIA. Congressman Joe Sestak (D) plans to ignore White House and DSCC pressure and will shortly announce his primary challenge to US Senator Arlen Specter (D). reports "is privately telling supporters that he intends to run for Senate." In support of the report, TPM quoted Sestak's sister and campaign employee: "He intends to get in the race." TPM also produced a scan of handwritten note from Sestak to a supporter in which the Congressman wrote: "I am writing you as especially dear supporters to let you know I intend to run for the US Senate."

directorblue said...

@AG, @Georgetown,

Updated the timeline to include your items.

I have yet to add the Judicial Watch items, however, as I'd like to drill into them a little further.

Anonymous said...

I just think it's hilarious that they are using Bill Clinton to try to white wash the scandal.

Mr zero credibility is the best they could do ?